Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happily Married with Children...

Thanks to Sarah Says for pointing me to this Tara Parker-Pope article "The Happy Marriage is the 'Me' Marriage" in the NY Times.

The article talks about how having your own personal growth enhances your relationship because you in turn are helping the other person with their own "self-expansion" or personal growth.  This has been the case with my own marriage, we have many common interests but since Greg is a science dork we come at them from different perspectives which makes things more interesting.  We also have differing interests that don't always enhance the other (like my cross stitch or his collection of rocks and fossils) but more often they do - I remember Greg once saying something to the effect of "we always have more interesting conversations when you're reading books that excite you."  That sounds sort of condescending, I know - I'll get to the reason why it isn't in a bit.

There is no mention the role of children in a happy marriage, but I did find this old Newsweek article that asks "Does Having Kids Make You Happy?".  I first read this a few weeks ago and started a post about it, but got distracted.  It made me laugh and then cry.  
In Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book "Stumbling on Happiness," the Harvard professor of psychology looks at several studies and concludes that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child—and increases only when the last child has left home. 
I had sort of put it out of my head until I tried to do the Sustainable Marriage Quiz. It was just too damn hard.  My results would have shown that at best we had a "moderately exciting" relationship but more likely that we had a "low connection".  Why was it so hard?  Because we don't do anything interesting right now, unless you count the Maryland Science Center or Port Discovery.  They may actually be moderately interesting things to do, except that it's stressful with 3 kids of such differing ages and there's always some sort of crisis or meltdown. 

We have been trying to do more things individually - Greg is going to train to be a stream wader and I am the treasurer of the PTA, which gives me some brain stimulation and it gets me out interacting with other adults.  But that isn't much in the interesting category.  And this is what Greg was talking about when he said that our conversations are more interesting when I'm reading something that excites me - because having small kids really impedes our ability to get out in the world to do interesting things, so until they are a little older and less needy we're left to what we can read.
I am a lucky woman because my husband's attitude is marriage first, kids second.  But in reality that is not always practical.  I think that we have a sustainable marriage and I love my children - but I guess they never said it would be easy.


  1. That article/SarahSays-post gave me a lot to consider too.

    I don't have kids, so I can only imagine what that change is like, and it's one I didn't consider before finding your post. Thanks for sharing your perspective. :)

  2. Mo - Hopefully it doesn't scare you away from having kids! ;)